Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

ASU Police Department chief placed on leave due to actions during pro-Palestine encampment

ASU PD Chief Michael Thompson has been placed on paid administrative leave due to complaints and video evidence of his actions at the Alumni Lawn encampment


ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson and other law enforcement at the encampment called the "ASU Liberated Zone" on the Alumni Lawn outside of Old Main on Friday, April 26, 2024, in Tempe.

ASU Police Department Chief Michael Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave on May 10 following complaints regarding his actions at the pro-Palestine encampment on April 26 and 27, according to an ASU spokesperson. 

According to an ASU statement, the new acting chief will be John Thompson, the former assistant chief for ASU PD.

On the morning of April 26, when the pro-Palestine encampment was established, Michael Thompson was allegedly caught on video slashing tents. That morning, three people were arrested and an additional 69 were arrested by state troopers, ASU PD and Tempe Police in the early hours of April 27. 

Read more: ASU confirms 69 people arrested outside of Old Main in response to encampment early Saturday morning 

In a video obtained by ABC 15, Michael Thompson was seen interacting with protesters. In the video he admits to slashing tents using a knife and slaps a phone out of a protesters hand when asked for his name.

ASU's Office of General Counsel will be conducting an investigation to review the events at the encampment on April 26 and 27, according to an ASU spokesperson. "Upon completion of the review, ASU will provide an update on its findings," said the ASU spokesperson.

Thompson has served as the chief of ASU PD since 2014. He also teaches classes at ASU and is scheduled to teach a "Seminar in Criminal Justice Organization & Management" course in the fall. 

The University has not responded to a request for comment on whether or not he will be allowed to teach in the fall.

The new Acting Chief John Thompson has served as an assistant chief with ASU PD since 2022. He is scheduled to teach an ASU course called "Introduction to Criminal Investigations" this fall as well.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:38 p.m. to include more information on the incident. This is a developing story and may be updated.

Correction: A name was fixed for spelling error and published at 4:29 p.m. on May 10, 2024

Edited by Abigail Beck and Alexis Heichman

Reach the reporter at and follow @nerdyoso on X. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on X.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.